The best way to build up your running

We outline the best way to build up your running safely using some key principles.

It is the volume of Chatty running that you do that will make you a faster runner not the speed that you run at.

You may be a beginner and be building up to an hour of continuous running or more experienced and doing your first marathon. Either way the same principles apply and building up your base training is the key to improvement.

We are all different

There is no ‘cookie cutter’ approach to building up. How much to increase your running will depend on what your starting point is and your level of experience. However, by sticking to our principles you will be able to build up safely and successfully.

Keep your vitality

If you don’t feel like you want to go for a run this is a sign that you are doing too much. You should feel energised by your training not fatigued by it. Use your vitality as a guide to when to increase your mileage or time. When what you are already doing feels easy then is the time to increase the volume of running.

Stay Chatty

Keep it Chatty as you build up. All the key adaptations you want in your body happen at Chatty pace. There is no need to run any faster. It is even more important not to increase the pace of your runs at the same time as increasing the distance or time. Your body responds to being treated gently so avoid adding in a hard run as you build up the volume.

Build up the time rather than the mileage

The amount of miles you do will vary depending on the terrain you run on. A hilly run has the effect of adding extra miles so if you are increasing the volume of running a hilly run will add extra to your build up. It is safer to work with time rather than distance.

Build up the long run first

If you don’t do a long run in the week then this is the place to start. Build up one run to 60 minutes first then continue up to 90 minutes. Beware of doing all your weekly running on long run day though. Your average run should be two thirds the time of your long run. The longer the long run, the more running you need to do in the week to balance up your training.

What does this look like in practice?

So only build up the long run until it reaches three times the length of your average run. Then increase another run in the week instead. A sixty minute long run is ideal if your average run is 40 minutes. A 90 minute long run is perfect if your average run is 60 minutes.

Add an extra day

Once you have the long run up to the ideal distance for you and you have a variety of length runs through the week, then the next step is to add an extra day’s run if you have time. Start with half the distance of your average run and increase it from this point.

How much should you increase and how often?

To avoid overcooking things we find that increasing your running time every three weeks is the best approach. Increase the time you are running by 10-15 minutes in week 1 and keep it the same for the next two weeks. This gives your body time to adapt to the extra stimulus. By the third week that increase should then feel easier. If that is the case then it’s time to increase again. Using this approach you can increase by a maximum of 15% in week one. Then let your body adapt to this over the course of the next two weeks.

What about the 10% rule?

Many training plans advocate building up by no more than 10% of your current mileage or running time a week. This means that if you are doing two runs, one of 40 minutes and another of 50 minutes, you should add no more than 9 minutes to this total time the following week. Increasing your mileage or running time every week works well for beginners as 10% is a gradual increase. But when you are already running for, let’s say, a total of four hours a week, then adding 10% will mean another 24 minutes of running each week. This amount is a potential injury risk.

There are no hard and fast rules for building up but always err on the side of caution to avoid overdoing things. Just remember the following points.

Main guidelines

Only increase one run at a time.

Increase the long run first.

Increase your running time by 10-15 minutes maximum every three weeks.

Listen to your body so you know when to increase and when to consolidate your current training volume.

Only increase when what you are doing when it feels easy.

Keep your vitality.

Consistency is the key.

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